Most Americans favor major changes in the selection of presidential nominees, with six in 10 saying they would eliminate political conventions and let voters choose the candidates directly, a Media General-Associated Press poll has found.
As the primary season winds down, with the final contests June 7, the survey found broad dissatisfaction with the selection system. A majority of respondents said they did not follow the campaigns regularly and only half believed the races provide a good discussion of the issues.Sizable minorities said the best candidates generally lose their bid for the nomination, particularly on the Democratic side.
Fifty-two percent of the 1,204 adults in the national poll favored major changes in the way the parties pick nominees, while only 38 percent said the system works well enough now. Ten percent didn't know.
The dissatisfaction evenly spanned ideologies and political affiliations. The most striking split was in age: The youngest adults, ages 18-29, thought by a narrow margin that the system works well enough, while the oldest, those older than 64, broadly favored major changes, by 56-28 percent.
The age split was mirrored in levels of attentiveness to the races. Just 27 percent of the youngest group said they had been following the primary campaigns regularly, compared with 54 percent of the oldest group.
There was majority agreement on another way to select candidates. Fifty-nine percent said they would prefer to have voters select the nominees, without any delegates to party conventions.
Only 31 percent favored the party convention system. Though rules vary by state, generally voters select some delegates, the party selects others and the delegates meet to choose the nominee at conventions, where under some circumstances delegates can switch their allegiance.
Just 3 percent liked the idea of letting party leaders select the nominee on their own.
In another measure of unhappiness with the presidential nomination process, sizable minorities of Americans said the parties generally do not nominate their best candidate from among those running.
The Democrats fared worse, to the point that a plurality of the men in the poll said the Democrats do not choose their best candidate.
Overall, 46 percent of respondents said the Democrats generally do pick their best candidate from those who seek the nomination, and 40 percent said the party doesn't. But while women by a 51-33 margin said the Democrats do take their best candidate, men by a 47-41 split disagreed.
More respondents overall, 52 percent to 36 percent, said the Republicans nominate their best candidate from among those running, while 36 percent said not.